Saturday, 28 April 2018 02:03

Warriors – Pelicans

Warriors Pelicans Game 1 prediction

The Golden State Warriors and the New Orleans Pelicans will kick off the second round of the Western Conference playoffs, as the two teams meet in Oakland on Saturday night. The big news is Steph Curry`s potential return, as he is listed as questionable for Game 1.

The Warriors (58-24, 29-12 home in regular season) defeated the Spurs 4-1 in the first round, but they were a bit lucky to escape that easy. Even though the Spurs were the easiest opponent they could have faced and even though the Warriors cruised in the first three games, the series got tight in Games 4 and 5 – and the Warriors barerly survived the 5th one. Eventually they got through rather comfortably overall, but it was yet another testament about the fact that this team is just not the same without Stephen Curry on the court.

The Pelicans (48-34, 24-17 away in regular season) have been the biggest surprise of the playoffs so far, after they swept the third seeded Portland Trailblazers in the first round. Not only did the Pelicans win the series 4-0, but they did it in style, dominating each game from start to finish with very few blips in their performance. At a closer look the Pelicans might not be such a surprise though, taking into account their red hot form at the end of the regular season, and considering they are well built for the playoffs. They lack depth, which is bad in the regular season, but in the playoffs that is not so important, as the starters log big time minutes – and they do have 4 solid starters with playoff pedigree in Davis, Rondo, Holiday and Mirotic.

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Team news: Steph Curry is listed as questionable for Game 1, but chances are he will not play. In other news, McCaw (Warriors) and Cousins, Ajinca (Pelicans) are injured for some time and are out for the season.

The Warriors are rated as just 1.20 favorites for the straight win here, and these odds are lower than in some of their home games against the Spurs. The price is so low due to the news about Curry’s potential return, but that`s just not likely to happen.

The ‘questionable’ status in the NBA usually means ‘unlikely’ to play, and it would be a huge surprise to see Curry back after just a few full practices. Even if he could play, the Warriors have absolutely no reason to risk him in Game 1, it would be a shocking decision, so his questionable status seems more like a tactic to confuse the Pelicans. All NBA experts and analysts agree he will miss the game, but the news has made some impact on the general public, and odds are lower on the Warriors than they should be.

The Pelicans will be a tough matchup for the Warriors as long as Curry is still out. New Orleans has played better basketball than Golden State in the last month or so, including the playoffs. They are on fire and confident. They have a superstar in Anthony Davis who can match Kevin Durant 1 on 1, and the rest of the squad is well built to disrupt Golden State’s game, with Rondo and Holiday being two pitbulls in the backcourt, who will hound and hurt Golden State’s three point shooting.

The Warriors are not a championship caliber team without Curry, it has been proved over and over that they are not the same side when Durant is leading the show, and they really haven`t played very well lately. A rested, feisty, rugged and in form Pelicans team should give them trouble.

The value is definitely on the Pelicans here as long as Curry doesn`t play, and he shouldn’t. If he does, things would change, and we would just have to hope for the best (Pelicans would still have a good chance to cover). Obviously him playing is a possibility and a risk which must be taken into account, but as things stand, everything suggests Steph will sit out at least until Game 2.

My tip here is the Pelicans to cover the 9.5 point handicap. Expect the point spread to go lower once (if) Curry is ruled out. Prediction: Golden State Warriors – New Orleans Pelicans 112 – 114.

Pick: Pelicans +9,5
Odds: 1.95 @ Bet365
Stake: 10
Possible profit: 9.50
Event date: 29 April